Rémy Hysbergue’s work is organized around series. As soon as the risk of repetition appears, or that the series opens onto new perspectives, the painter interrupts it to start another one. Hysbergue uses the art history and the attentive observation of the contemporary art scene as toolboxes where he picks up his themes and motives, which he isolates and often twists, to build a polymorphic and quite bold oeuvre, since it avoids any immediate identification. However, the viewer can notice some constants, such as the exclusive use of industrial materials (PVC, Plexiglas, aluminium, etc.), whose smooth surfaces allow him to overcome the canvas weft and itsroughness to show the painting, and only the painting. Furthermore his apparently eclectic formal expression finds its unity in the theoretical and aesthetic issues obsessing Hysbergue for almost 20 years: What is the status of the image? How do we perceive it?
For the series “Images” precisely, that we presented in 2012, Rémy Hysbergue had substituted his brushes and spatulas for acrylic spray. The play of light and shadow produced by the exclusive use of black and white (sometimes blue), recalled photography. But this first impression did not withstand a closer observation of the works: no depth of field modelled by this chiaroscuro, but a plane spatiality, purely pictorial. By reshuffling the cards between light andcolour, Hysbergue questions the notionof space inherited from modernism(giving up chiaroscuro for hot-coldcontrasts).
With the series “Points du Jour” and “Merveilles”, Hysbergue remains faithful to spray paint but returns to the colour that he applies on white background. The different layers are sprayed from various angles; the gesture – previously evidenced by traces of spatula – disappears. Yet the movement has been rarely so perceptible in Hysbergue’s work. The traces left by all kinds of tiny stencils shape the image. They evoke shadows and thus suggest a light source but also a breath going all over the surface of the painting. Surrounding the motive by white margins emphasizes the play with photography, but these margins also evoke an open window on an undefined space, deep and fleecy, echoing to James Turrell installations, making colours and light palpable.
Humour is never far away by Hysbergue’s work and indicates its ambiguity: the “Dessins” are not strictly speaking “drawings”, since they are made with acrylic paint sprayed on paper. But their support is not the only factor explaining their title: they appear as a kind of contradictory sketch of the “Merveilles” made on aluminium. Whereas the artist previously endeavoured to show us a certain materiality of the painted image, he seems here to aspire to grab the absolute immateriality. He improves the same technique, but the colours vanish, letting the white background appear, the paint layer is so thin that it melts into the paper weft: the light emerges, dazzles like a flash , but it is a light without brightness, strangely matte. And the eye continues to ask: What do I see?
Grasping the “Dessins” seems indeedimpossible, as their immateriality and intern movement stagger us. RémyHysbergue shows that abstraction, or rather the non-figuration, is now the only possible way, because the imageshave invaded our visual environment(photos, video, Internet). The almost liquid aspect of the “Dessins” evokes the free flow of digital images from a contextual field to another, from painting to film, from photography tovideo, or from video to virtual reality.The work of Rémy Hysbergue echoes here to formal researches ofChristopher Wool, R.H. Quaytman orNathan Hylden, when attempting toreactivate our awareness of the image using the abstraction.